|I'm interested in changing our family's standard breakfast cereal. I want one that's healthful, but still tastes good (so my kids will eat it). What should I be looking for? |
Wandering down the cereal aisle at the grocery store is not for the faint of heart. The sheer number of choices can be overwhelming.
But choosing a healthful breakfast cereal is one of the smartest nutrition moves you can make. Not only are most fortified with vitamins and minerals, but many offer a substantial amount of fiber.
Start your day off with a high-fiber cereal and you're more likely to reach your recommended fiber intake. That amount is based on your recommended calorie intake: Those consuming 1,800 calories a day (including less active women ages 26-50 or moderately active boys ages 9-10) need 25 grams of fiber a day; those consuming 2,400 calories a day (including very active women ages 14 to 30 or less active men ages 21 to 40) need 34 grams a day. Choosing a high-fiber cereal -- one with, at the very least, 5 grams of fiber per serving -- can set you on the right path.
Besides fiber, take a look at the amount of sugar and, this time, aim low. There's no hard-and-fast rule to help determine how much sugar in a cereal is too much, but look at labels and compare. If a cereal you're interested in has more than 10 to 15 grams of sugar per serving, see if there are lower-sugar options that would be just as satisfying.
If you're worried that low-sugar cereals won't cut it with your children, take heart. A new study, published in the January 2011 issue of Pediatrics, showed that children tended to "like" or "love" the cereal they were given to eat, whether or not it was high or low in sugar. Not surprisingly, those served low-sugar options tended to add table sugar to sweeten up their breakfast, but they still ended up consuming less sugar than children eating high-sugar cereals. In addition, children eating high-sugar cereals tended to eat much bigger portions, increasing their calorie intake significantly.
Earlier this year, the Harvard School of Public Health compiled a long list of cereals with the grams of sugar per serving and the percent of sugar by weight in the cereal. The listing is online at http://tinyurl.com/hsph-cereal. Scroll down the list to find the best options for you to try.
If you're still concerned about taste, here's one more idea: Choose your favorite high-fiber/low-sugar cereal and mix it with a cereal that you choose just for flavor. That will help you start the day right -- healthfully and with a smile.
Chow Line is a service of Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Martha Filipic, 2021 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH, 43210-1044, or email@example.com.
From Liz Smith, FCS Extension Educator